That First, Next Step

This girl is a technology and social media junkie. I love seeing vacays, family time, delicious meals, pets, baby bumps, date nights and such. Staying connected in this way provides opportunities to pray for friends who are going through rough times and learn ways we can help one another IRL. The drama, nasty comments and occasional bashing I can live without. My social media circle is small. Sometimes the ugly still sneaks in, but these days it’s less often and in much smaller doses.  
But summer! Summer is prime-time, short-term mission season and that’s a great reason for me to check Facebook and Instagram more frequently!
Many of my friends and acquaintances are either preparing to leave, are currently on the ground, or have just returned from the mission field. Social media allows them to share, in an instant, glimpses of what God is doing wherever they are.  Is that not amazing!?  This summer some of God’s people have scattered about the globe like dandelions in a stiff breeze …. serving in places like Japan, Romania, Spain, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Colorado, Connecticut.  
This time of year my own TimeHop brings back images and memories of our first international mission trip to Jacmel, Haiti, and of our second trip closer to home to support the LifeSong church plant in Manchester, Connecticut. These trips compared side by side were different in nearly every way except for one, and that was to support ministry efforts to connect people to their local church and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I really had no idea what to expect on a mission trip before we went. We had heard the stories. The challenges, the travel restrictions, the language barriers, the heat, the reason we have the Candice rule, the God-moments, the beautiful people and the projects. But those were stories told by my “experienced” missionary friends. People who (in my mind) had skills and training and relationships already established in the community.  
They were qualified, we were not. We were newbies to this mission thing, green as grass. Just making that initial decision to actually GO was difficult for me. Honestly, I thought I had nothing to offer and they would all be much better off if we just donated my trip fees directly to the ministry.   
Eventually we put our yes on the table. We prepared spiritually, physically and financially. And we went.
I’ve met people who have gone on a mission trip, checked it off the list, and simply resumed life where they left off. I’ve met people who God has called to make the move to full time ministry in foreign countries. Then there’s people like me …. who return home with new eyes and heart, forever changed.
Mark and I have talked about this many times. One of the most important aspects of our first mission trip was that 6-8 week period of time before the trip to get ready. Not just go through the motions counting time and attending team meetings, but honest and deep spiritual preparation. I think going away on mission is much like prayer, in the sense that often times the greatest take-away is the change experienced IN us, not necessarily any changes effected BY us.  
If you were to ask what God did on that first mission trip in July 2012, I’d tell you straight up that He used that trip to change me. Change how I see money and possessions and people and pain and joy and worship and grace.  Change how I see Him.  Clear up any confusion between needs and wants and blessings.  Change me for the right here, right now, everyday life on mission.   
Where will YOU go, and what will God do with it? The only way you’ll know is to take that first, next step and GO.

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4 Responses to That First, Next Step

  1. Shelly says:

    I was just talking about you and how you serve. I must admit that I used to have a relatively jaded view of Christianity and how “real Christians” act. Meeting you and so many other incredibly loving, generous people in the last almost three years has really changed the way I see the world and what kind of person I want to be and what my priorities are.

    • You’re too kind. BTW I haven’t forgotten we owe you dinner! I’m happy to drop off, pizza, tacos, chicken, whatever you girls want. If you’re set for tonight, let me know for tomorrow. Feel better soon 😘

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